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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

Sustainable Sundays: Making an Eco-friendly Home

Hi folks, and welcome back to another Sustainable Sunday. This week I thought it was high-time that I shared some more ways in which you can be a bit more eco-friendly and green by simply changing some small things in your day-to-day life that will help you ultimately become a more green person overall. Back in December, I shared with you all a variety of ways I try to be more eco-friendly but of course, there's many more I didn't mention especially when we consider our bad habits around our homes. So if you want to make some small changes that will have a big impact on how green your home is, keep on reading!

Stop buying one-use batteries. And switch to rechargeables! I'm in the process of doing this myself because unfortunately, most single-use batteries end up in landfill and are obviously not the cleanest things for the planet to be left festering in landfill. Some supermarkets and high street stores do provide a recycling station for batteries, but for the cleanest and most effective way to use batteries, investing in a rechargeable set will always win hands down. There's also the Brucey bonus of it being a one-off payment so it will save you money in the long run!

Switch off your electricals. This one might be obvious to some or new to others, but making sure you actually switch off electrical items at the socket can make a huge difference to how much energy your home uses. Leaving items such as laptops, TVs, consoles etc. on standby whilst plugged into the mains can use a surprisingly amount of electric and means that you're paying extra in your electric bill too. When you're finished using an item, make sure to fully switch it off and see the difference in your energy consumption and your spending over time. Also linked to this might again be a little obvious, but you'll be surprised with how often we all fall into bad habits and leave every light on in the house. If you're from the north of the UK, a parent or family member might be rather fond of saying "what's this? Blackpool illuminations?!" if you're notorious for switching every light on where ever you go, but just be sure to switch it right back off again as soon as you don't need it.

Check your thermostat. Gang, how easy is it to turn up the heating when you get a little chilly and then kind of just forget about it? I know I know, I used to be guilty of this exact thing but programming your boiler/thermostat to only come on at certain times of the day and/or turning down the minimum room temperature to prevent the heating kickstarting too often can make a huge difference to the energy your home consumes. This doesn't mean you have to live in an ice box and be uncomfortable (lordy knows I can't due to my Raynaud's disease making me need heat), but try doing things like putting on a thick jumper or cardigan if you're feeling chilly or popping a blanket over your lap whilst you're watching TV etc. before reaching for that thermostat and see the big differences it makes.

Buy fruit & veg that is in season. I've talked about the benefits of buying loose fruit & veg if this is an option for you before and also mentioned how great it can be to eat less meat & consume less dairy too but another food-related tip is to buy what's in season when it's available. Depending on the time of year, certain fruits and veggies will be more readily available in green grocers, supermarkets and at farmers markets too. Buying these products when they're in season means that not only are they easier to get your hands on, but they're often at a bargain price too. I can remember working in the Co-Op supermarket when I was younger and the rock-bottom prices strawberries were sold at during summer was ludicrous. They're often sold cheaply because fruit & veg have a short shelf-life due to their freshness so supermarkets for example become overrun with the same products from their suppliers. Take advantage of the great discounts not only to benefit your own pocket, but to benefit the farmers those products have come from too.

Cold washes of all kinds. We all know running the shower for a long time costs you more money and more electric, but using eco-modes and a colder temperature can also help. Eco settings do exactly as you'd expect and are more eco-friendly as they use less energy. My shower has this setting and the only noticeable differences in the temperature is lower on the same number as the "normal" setting and the pressure isn't as strong. Eco settings are also available on many washing machines now too and again, are an easy way to earn that "eco-friendly warrior!" badge. If you don't have such a setting on your machines, try simply washing both yourself in the shower and your clothes in the washing machine on colder rinses. It's a myth that you need to wash your clothes in hot water and actually washing them in colder water will not only save you money, be kinder to the environment as you're consuming less energy and thus reducing your carbon footprint, but it will also help the longevity of your clothes increase. What's not to like?!

Speaking of clothes... Stop tumble drying. Tumble dryers are common - particularly in family homes where it seems someone constantly needs a certain item of clothing immediately like, yesterday - but they're also notorious for bumping up your energy usage and bill. Hang your washing out if it's an option (weather and space permitting) but failing the luxury of outside space, purchase a clothes horse or two and you'll be all set to go indoors. I managed to live in a studio flat with Matt for 4 years and we found space for 3 clothes horses for air-drying our clothes so if we could do it, anyone can.

Use energy saving lightbulbs. The clue is definitely in the name with these products, but energy saving lightbulbs make a world of difference to your energy consumption and bill. They have greater longevity than non-energy saving bulbs and save you money and keep you greener the longer you use them.

Actually recycle & compost. You're probably rolling your eyes right now like "really, Amyleigh?" but taking the time out to recycle thoroughly is something not all of us do. It's great to see how much England has started to recycle more with more focus on packaging from various brands encouraging it and local borough councils enforcing it too, but make sure you're really doing it. It's really easy to glance at an item and assume it can't be recycled when it's possible just a part of it can't be. Some items that come to mind are things like hairspray cans with plastic lids, yoghurt pots with cardboard covers, and your dirty used ear buds can 100% be thrown in the recycling, just make sure you're really separating what can and can't be chucked in there. It's worth taking that extra little bit of time as every small step has a ripple effect on the planet. I've mentioned composting here too as this is something I want to look into more myself. Composting your food waste is an option and can benefit your garden or simply just give you another avenue in which to be more eco-friendly and I'm all for it.

Ditch the shop-bought household products. You heard me - make your own cleaning products! Many household cleaning agents have tons of chemicals added to them that are entirely unnecessary and not only that, have a tendency to come in plastic packaging - no matter how eco-friendly branding tries to be! Minimise your plastic pollution and buying into harmful chemicals by making your own cleaning agents at home. You can reuse old cleaning product bottles etc. once empty or purchase glass bottles such as these if you want to make a true eco-friendly switch and then it's simply a case of making your own home remedy. I will be publishing a post soon on my fave homemade cleaning product "recipes" so keep your eyes peeled for that if you want to make this zero waste switch!

Toilet roll, kitchen roll, cotton pads... Change it all. The last one I'm going to mention here gang is all of the things the majority of us definitely do need to use and have available at home, but can switch to more eco-friendly and/or zero waste options. I'm pleased to say that my home only ever has toilet paper made from recycled materials, kitchen roll which is made from bamboo that can be reused (so it is *extra good* in my opinion), and reusable "cotton" pads made from fabric. These small changes mean I don't waste half as much materials as they're part of a recycling system, are reusable, and aren't clogging up our planet with more throwaway items. If bamboo kitchen roll doesn't float your boat, simply use fabric cloths instead as they are just as good for absorption and cleaning as they were originally intended for such a purpose. Having reusable cotton pads/rounds has been a massive game changer for me as I feel I'm not only pampering my skin, but I'm not being as wasteful, I am more in control of them as I am aware when I need to wash them etc. and they are *so* much easier to pack if I'm staying overnight somewhere or going away on holiday.

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